Airtight wood stoves and gas lamps

On Sunday afternoon last we had the pleasure of having the Grassy Plains church choir drop in for some music and singing.

On Sunday afternoon last we had the pleasure of having the Grassy Plains church choir drop in for some music and singing. It was just great for me too as it brought back so many wonderful memories. We sang many of the old favorite hymns that never grow old. Thanks folks for giving us your time.

Out of the fog

The weatherman says tonight we will see the end of the fog. Let’s hope so as it’s been dangerous driving for too long. This has been the longest I have ever seen the fog stay with us. It’s no doubt having most of the lakes still open that causes the change in the atmosphere. A number of folks I have talked to they have almost hit moose crossing the highway. You just can’t see them until they are there, right in front of you. It’s been a mild winter but this is not always the best as the ice everywhere has been very dangerous.

Wood heat

Fire has always been a more or less fear or more. So when we came to the lake 78 years ago all the heating was done with wood and our lights were either gas or kerosene and candles. There were a few small generators for lights.

Lots of the wood heaters were called Airtight and they would blow up if shut down too tight. Lots of chimney fires from that. My friend was away and he asked me to stoke his heater, it was an Airtight, it was like all of them dangerous. So I fired it up for the night and shut it down too tight. As I was locking up his door I heard a bang and the lid was blown off plus some pipes, what a mess. I got things under control at last, fixed the heater lid, put up the pipes, left the bottom open and left. I left his house a mess but still standing thank heavens. I heard lots of folks had these tin Airtight’s blow up and some had lost houses.

When Pat got home he was happy I had saved his house and he got another heater right away. At our store and home which were joined we had two gas drums made into heaters and there were lots of them at that time. I still have one retired in the basement of my old home. One thing they were as safe as any heater. We had a fancy heater in our sitting room.

Gas lamps

This little story came about in the 40s and it was just about a disaster and a scare for our family. This was before the hydro came about. It was mid winter and about 40 below and our power plant had been out of service for about a month due to the severe cold. So we were having to use lamps, two gas lamps in the store and post office, a gas lamp in the kitchen and a couple of coal oil lamps in the rest of the store and house.

It was still about 30 below but the lamps had to be filled with naphtha gas so I filled them put them in the kitchen and fired up one and was putting it on the table and the filler plug blew out spraying burning gas over my arms and chest also our mother’s little dog she was afire too.

I kicked open the door with the burning lamp and threw it into a snow bank, Dad had the fire in the kitchen out and the burning dog was fine too and safe. The fire on my chest was out well then I felt the pain on my arms and hands. But at least the house was not damaged or the store. I ended up in the hospital with Dr. Holmes with bandages etc. but all healed up and we saved the store as it was scary. That was a bad experience and a lesson for me. Do not bring a gas lamp into a warm house when it’s so cold. It was a close call to losing it all.

I was telling a friend of mine about the lamp accident and he said that this happened before to other folks. It was just certain kinds of gas lamps that would do this.

Back on the prairie there were lots of fires; house, barn and prairie fries were bad. Lightning fries were the dangerous ones. If a prairie fire got started and a wind behind it even a good saddles horse could not out run it. I remember as a kid sleeping in our clothes but the Eyehill creek stopped it and it burnt itself out. Our neighbors were there with teams of horses and plows to help us save our place. The Eyehill creek did the trick.

More snow

We got a nice fall of snow last night this will make the icy roads a bit safer maybe. At least it helped protect the water lines so if we get some cold weather they won’t freeze.

I feel that I have lived two lifetimes. The good old days and our modern world, so many changes in my life. It’s been interesting I must say. I think transportation has been the greatest change of all. The saddle horse, the pack horse, then the wagons, buggies, then the automobile, then the airliners, then things got more and got better. How well I remember our dad and his first car in 1927, Model T Ford sedan. It had a canvas top that folded back. Dad said they can’t get better than that, sure fooled him.

When we first arrived at Francois Lake in 1941 there were still horses and wagons and the little ferry that made five trips a day in the summer and four starting in the fall.

Shut down during the winter months and we drove on the ice until spring and the ice went out. Our present ferry is out of this world with such top of the line service summer and winter.

As I look back I remember seeing my first pack train come over the ferry.

There were about 15 pack and saddle horses and folks walking. It had come from the White Eye tribe from away in the Cheslatta country.

This was the one and only pack train I had ever seen. I wish I had taken a picture as this was real old-time stuff. The old ferry was loaded with horses, dogs and no doubt family members. This was August 1943, this is as close as I can figure. I saw a bit of history, long gone by now, just a memory.

Words of advice

Never squat with your spurs on, never miss a good chance to shut up, you will find it pays off. Last but not least if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

And always remember God loves you and so do I.


Burns Lake Lakes District News